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Public hospitals water hitches worry nurses

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By Samuel Kalimira

National Organisation of Nurses and Midwifery (Nonm) has asked the government to find an immediate solution to the water challenge public hospitals are facing before the poor sanitation in hospitals gets out of hand.

Nonm President Shouts Simeza has told The Sunday Times that they have received complaints from different hospitals in the country that the majority is operating without proper running water because of unpaid bills or failure by hospitals to manage prepaid metres.

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Simeza said Nonm will not accept its members to continue working in health-hazard environments because the government is failing to sustain running water in hospitals.

He said the current situation puts nurses and patients at risk of contracting diseases due to poor sanitation with water challenge being one of the main contributing factors.

“We value the availability of water because of infection prevention measures and we are worried that instead of assisting people as per training, we fall short because water is the challenge.

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“Water is life. Even the medicines which we give people require clean water. We cannot continue working in the stations which are putting us at risk of contracting diseases. We need serious attention on this problem, otherwise nurses are not comfortable working in such environments,” Simeza said.

But Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Charles Mwansambo said issues concerning water and electricity bills are now handled by councils because of decentralisation.

Mwansambo said his office only comes in on policy issues; hence, pushing the blame to councils.

“The Controlling Officer at district level is the District Commissioner. He makes decisions of paying water and electricity bills after looking at priorities. The council also decides on paying food suppliers and other operations at the hospital. We only come in on policy issues,” Mwansambo said.

According to Nonm, some of the hospitals that have been hit hard by water challenges are Karonga, Mchinji and Machinga.

But Mchinji District Commissioner Fred Movete said he was not aware of the water challenges at the facility.

“I will follow the matter up because the  information I have might be sketchy. I just know that the hospital uses two systems of a borehole and water supplied by Central Region Water Board. I am not sure about the metres being used currently,” Movete said.

Machinga District Commissioner Rosemary Nawasha said the council has already engaged a contractor to overhaul the old water system.

Nawasha said currently the works are progressing well and that soon water will be restored at the hospital.

“We did not manage to get a comment from Karonga DC Paul Kalilombe as his phone went unanswered in several attempts.

Recently, health activist Maziko Matemba warned that water challenges should not be undermined, because they deal with human life.

Matemba said some facilities, especially those in rural areas, use water from boreholes drilled at a distance, a development he said is not healthy for both practitioners and patients.

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